If you get injured in a dog attack in Texas, there are many legal hoops you must jump through to obtain financial compensation for your injuries. The breed of the dog, however, is not something that the Texas courts take into consideration when determining financial responsibility (liability) for a dog bite injury. Every dog bite case is treated the same, regardless of the breed of the dog involved. The breed may play a role in proving negligence, however, as well as the amount of financial compensation awarded to the victim.
In general, Texas’ dog bite law does not involve the specific breed of the dog. Texas uses a one-bite rule, also known as a negligence rule, to determine liability for a dog bite injury, regardless of the breed. A one-bite rule means that an injured victim must prove the pet owner knew or reasonably should have known that the dog was violent, yet did nothing to stop an attack. In other words, that the dog had bitten someone previously or showed other signs of aggression, but that the pet owner did not properly control the dog.
Dog breed might be relevant, however, to establish that the pet owner was negligent in failing to prevent the attack. If a pet owner was violating a state or municipal law against owning a specific breed of dog, for example, this could be evidence of the pet owner’s negligence. Simply by owning an illegal breed, the pet owner could be accepting liability for any related incidents or injuries. However, Texas has a statewide law that does not permit counties or municipalities to create restrictions against specific breeds (Texas Health and Safety Code Section 822.047).
Dog breed might also matter in terms of whether the pet owner was breaking a leasing agreement by keeping the pet in a rented home or apartment. If so, this could be used as proof of the pet owner’s negligence. If the landlord knew that a tenant was violating a leasing agreement with a specific breed of dog, yet did nothing to remove the threat, the landlord could also bear liability for a related dog bite injury.
If a dog is assigned the classification of being dangerous in Texas, the owner of the dog will have additional responsibilities in terms of preventing an attack. A “dangerous dog,” according to Section 822.041 of the law, is one involved in an unprovoked attack that injures a human (or puts the person in reasonable fear of being injured) while the dog is in a place other than its enclosure.
In Texas, anyone who owns a dangerous dog must register the dog with the Animal Control Center, keep the dog on a leash or enclosure at all times, obtain special liability insurance coverage for the dog, and comply with other municipal laws regarding dangerous dogs. If the owner of a dangerous dog falls short of these responsibilities, this could be proof of negligence.
Finally, the breed of the dog may affect the outcome of a dog bite case in the sense that certain breeds can cause more severe physical injuries when they attack. According to dog bite injury statistics, most fatal injuries are caused by pit bulls, American bulldogs, German Shepherds and mastiffs.
Although smaller dogs may bite more frequently, the related injuries are generally not as severe as when larger dogs attack. The gravity of the victim’s dog bite injuries can affect how much the case is worth, as worse injuries create more expensive medical bills and greater pain and suffering. If you or a loved one was recently injured in a dog attack in Texas, contact an attorney for legal assistance with your specific case.